“A motive in the human heart is like deep water, and a person who has understanding draws it out.”
~Proverbs 20:5 (GW).
A key biblical principle — the workings of the human heart — one interrogated in Proverbs — joins with the “5 Whys” which fully explored reveal the real causes of events, and the human motives behind them, for so often we think we know why things happen, but mostly it’s guesswork.
Behind the apparent reason for why things are done is — notionally, five layers deeper — the real reason.
The Hidden Depth of the Human Heart
For a great number of reasons we conceal the reason we do many things; sometimes to prevent embarrassment, chiefly for self-protection... always for perceived gain.
This is the default. It’s not the way we have to operate, but it’s the natural way we prefer to operate. It’s instinct.
There are many reasons why we obscure our motives. What’s best to understand is not why we do this, but just the fact that it happens and it’s a truth of humanity that we must accept.
What This Means for Our Relationships
We can never safely assume we know why people do things.
The better we know them helps, but their reasons for action will largely be layers deeper than we can be aware. This is good to know, for we’re not meant to second-guess motives.
It’s better to have an open mind as to the range of reasons why people act in life.
How This Helps Us Personally – From an Interpersonal Viewpoint
Imagine the relief we have in knowing our rationale for life is forever known only to God and ourselves. The downside is people will make assumptions of why we do things, and overwhelmingly they’ll be wrong. Hence the injustices of life.
But there’s a more important relief-engendering reason to engage with this truth.
Moments where we accept it are moments we stop trying to play God.
It was never intended for us to make assumptions as to why things occur; we have the capacity to enlarge on facts and gain the truth or we leave well enough alone. This is a good rule, personally, because it helps us interpersonally — it helps us grow in humility; to revere the truth.
Beyond certain facts there’s always an air of doubt — information we have to ‘add’ in order to make sense of the story.
Where does this leave us?
To assume little in life is to be more accountable to the truth. Even better to do this in guardedness for the vicariously unknown nature of the real reasons for people’s actions.
But just as well is plunging deeper — if we have that role — to ensure discernment for matters enters the deepest waters, and to continue inquiring, “Why?”
“Why?” is a most important question — it will force us to become better listeners.
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.